(52 minutes) South Africa/UK
Director: Simon Wood
Forerunners soulfully explores what it means to be black and middle class in South Africa today. At the frontier of unprecedented social change, Miranda, Mpumi, Martin and Karabo are part of the first generation of black South Africans to rise from poverty and join the country’s “middle class.” They delicately balance the traditional views of their childhood with the western consumerism that rules their professional lives, selecting and discarding elements from each world to forge a new legacy for their descendants. Forerunners is cinematic and experimental. The film has an ethereal feel; the slant of light signals the presence of ancestral spirits and a new dawn. The gentle motif of the wind throughout the film reminds us that the past is always carried with us. The stillness and dream-like tone allow the viewer to consider the beauty in the ordinary and the impact of each passing moment. The internal conflicts facing the characters are emphasized using carefully composed imagery of rural and urban, rich and poor. Empty spaces reflect the narrative and serve to show what has been left behind––the echo of ancestors. Weaving through these images the film suggests the elastic push and pull of a society in a state of flux, struggling to forge a new identity. Will the values they have inherited become irrelevant in 21st century Africa? Or can their heritage become a propelling force of strength with which to face the challenges to come?
Simon Wood has been working as a director for thirteen years. Since 2003 he has been working in Southern Africa producing documentary content for networks from Europe, Asia and the United States. In 2008, Simon set up SaltPeter Productions, a company designed to focus on innovative, challenging, and reactive documentaries in an African context. Over the past three years the company has produced a wide range of content including Caring for Mothers, a documentary highlighting the pandemic of maternal mental health issues in South Africa’s townships and Together from the Beginning, a documentary funded by the Department of Health to enable parents to recognize the importance of the cognitive wellbeing of their newborn infants. Prior to working in Africa, Simon worked as a director for ITV in the UK for five years.
Web site: www.forerunners.co.za